By Michael Smith

The theme for the 83rd annual Florida Strawberry Festival, March 1-11 in Plant City, is “Building New Memories!”

This year, the festival has added new bleacher-style concert seating that will accommodate 9,200 total guests, is closer to the stage and will be more comfortable for guests, Festival President Paul Davis said.

Another change with the GT Grandstands construction project is that the event will no longer offer free seating to headline shows.

“This was an extremely difficult decision for us,” Davis said. “But we absolutely had to construct new seating. And when you start crunching the numbers, there was just no way economically for us to offer free seats any longer.”

Davis said this year’s theme “points to the new entertainment venue we’ve constructed. But most of all, we want our guests to know we’re in the business of continuously making new and better memories for families.”

“We’re so excited about our visitors having a brand new experience with our new entertainment seating and the added vendor building,” he said. “It is our desire for our guests to make lifelong memories with their loved ones at the Florida Strawberry Festival.”

Each year, more than 500,000 visitors enjoy the festival’s headline entertainment, youth livestock shows, exhibits of commerce and its signature strawberry shortcake.
Reba McEntire, The Band Perry, Josh Turner, Trace Adkins, Earth, Wind & Fire, Big & Rich featuring Cowboy Troy, and Brad Paisley are among the headline entertainment artists who are scheduled to perform on the Wish Farms Soundstage this year. To purchase tickets, visit www.flstrawberryfestival.com or the Amscot Main Ticket Office located at 2209 W. Oak Ave. in Plant City or call 754-1996.

Festival gate admission, located at 303 N. Lemon St., is free for ages 5 and under, $5 for ages 6-12 and $10 for ages 13 and over. Tickets for each concert are sold separately and do not include festival gate admission.